Friday, July 30, 2010

War Week

This past week was War week, on of the hardest weeks a combat soldier must pas in the IDF to be certified as a combat soldier. but to fully explain this week I have to back up to the thursday prior to this past week. This fateful Thursday we steped off on our 70 kilometer foot march. We began at exactly 1855 and went straight on till 1035 Friday morning. The first hour of the march though made all the suffering worth it, every little bit of the pain. On our left side rose the Hermon mountain and the peaks of the Golan Heights, all shaded in rosy red shadows of a setting sun. While on our right side spread out the Hula valley and beyond it rose the Ramim mountain range, glowing ruby red from the setting sun hovering and slowly setting over its peaks. This view was one of the most stunning paintings I have ever seen god la out before me, it was a moment no artist or photographer could ever capture in its totality. But this work of art slowly faded as the sun finished to set and all I had left was 64 more kilometers of my land to learn with my feet.

When we did finally finish this march I was barely able to stand on my own feet the pain was so bad. I had worn large portions of skin from my feet and my legs muscles were tight and burning, but I had finished this march and had the 90k march to look forward to.

We closed shabbat on base and Saturday Night we began to prepare for War Week. From getting our ruck sacks ready to filling Jerry Cans and camel packs, and cramming those extra uniforms into the bag. Sunday morning we got our pre-mission brief for the first part of the week. We were tasked to carry out a raid on a simulated enemy base, which would be populated with live soldiers playing OPFOR (opposing forces). My Team was going to slowly move up to the perimeter place 3rd squad as cover from far, cross the inner road and place 1st squad as a close cover, and then 2nd squad (my squad) was to raid the offices for documents and kill all officers located in the building. That afternoon we finished packing our gear ate our last real meal for the week (a pretty decent meat dinner) and then sat down for a pre-mission run down by the Company Commander. He picked our brain onwhat each one of us was to do and where we would be at each moment and where each of our friends will be, and where we will be located, and on and on and on. After this finished we had 10 minutes gear on the bus and off we went.

Midnight we are in the Golan heights with vests, bags, and gear all on and ready to move out. We started our movement of 13 kilometers to the target. 13k may not seem to much but when you are carrying almost 40k that's a lot its more than half my body weight. We hauled ass and at 0330 we are in place to breach the "enemy" outpost. We set up a 360 degree security and the commanders set up a quick observation point. We had a problem there was a perimeter fence, which had not been expected. We had to back track and go around to find a hole in the fence which we did by 0430 and got into the base its self, but now we were on the wrong side of the base. By the time we could get to the other side it would be too light so we laid up and got ready for day combat. At 0530 we got back in movement and by 0730 we got to our next mission. We had to capture a "Syrian" hill post in a straight to live fire exercise. We did this by laying down cover fire from 3rd squad while 1st and 2nd maneuvered in close. Then 1st squad bounded up and charged the first position while second squad maneuvered behind them and when 1st squad had the position in their hands they laid down cover fire for us while we did a flanking maneuver on the second hill top. It was a fun exercise and our light machine gunner had some fun playing the Negev (The light machine gun used by the IDF produced by IMI). Playing the Negev is playing out a musical beat with bursts of fire, it is one of the coller things to hear and adds some fun to an Infantry exercise. By 0830 we had moved on and remained in movement till 1200 when we set up waiting positions, ate, prayed and caught a few hours of sleep. (our first since 0630 Sunday 29.5 hours ago).

At 1700 we moved out to get a water and ammo resupply. We filled back on water, ammo, and picked up several L.A.W. (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) rockets. From there we did a qick half hour movement to our next infantry drill on another "Syrian" position We did a dry run in day and night an at 2300 we moved out. We had one wounded on a stretcher and another being carried fireman style. This torture lasted till 0200 on Tuesday morning. We were finallly able to put down the wounded and were given a short 1.5 hours of sleep. We then received our next mission and started planing our next raid. Same layout as the first just a shorter trip there. We arrive, sneak in and as we hit the building the OPFOR opens up on us, and we responded secured the building and had the other 2 squads back us up. from there we did 5k with a wounded soldier on stretcher and at 0800 we settled in to waiting positions. We stayed on till 1800 when we had a full water and food resupply. The food was really not needed we were barley given any to eat at all and we just ended carrying lots of extra weight.

We kept up our movement till 0200 Wednesday morning when we stopped to load up the Orev (TOW II missle system). My squad leader was so gracious as to load the 1 kilo gas cable in his bag and the 10.5 kilo gas canister in my bag giving me a weight total of over 50 kilos on me, or 2/3 of my body weight. From there we set out on a 3 k straight away and then one hell of a climb up Mt. Hermoniah. There we had some of the fiercest wind I have ever felt in my life. We set up the system and built a wind breaker from the ruck sacks for the 3 guys on guard duty. Every one else went inside some concrete bunkers located next to us, there the wind was slightly less strong and only a bit above manageable. We reamined in this position till 0900 when we packed our gear up and moved out again with one wounded on a stretcher and one carried fireman style. This was getting to be a challenge though as almost every soldier had about 30-50 kilo's on his back already. When we about 200 meters into the march back a grenade seem to just jump out of the ground before me and spew white smoke. but this was no ordinary smoke it was a tear gas grenade and then out poped the company commander from a bunker and he threw another grenade and we all split. Because of the wind the gas dissipated quickly so we returned to formation, put on gas masks and kept going. We were almost at the end, about 800 meters, but one of the guys in the tzevet clean passed out, collapsed. We evacuated him and finnished up to the bus.

The bus brought us back to the area around shetach 100 (our current base) there we set up another waiting point till night. Our waiting point was located next to an orchard and sitting on a tree before me the whole time was a huge red pomegranate and for some reason I thought it was just a beautiful sight. I think it had to do with being so hungry. From this point we did a dry and then live fire exercise on Mount Ayelet which rises to 442 meters. from there we took one wounded solider via the fireman carry to a rally point about 2 kilometers away. There at 0430 Thursday we loaded our bags and spare gear on to a truck and with a single stretcher and our vest formed up. They placed a single wounded soldier on the stretcher and then point to mount Eveyatar (852 meters) behind us and said 2.5 hours go. This was no easy climb but it was a satisfying one. At some points the slope gets to be as steep as 40-50 degrees and we had to have solders pushing and pulling the stretcher just to move a meter or two. But we persevered on and at 0930 we finished the climb and walk to the bus and got back to the base, Shavuah Milchamah (War week) done.

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